Agrarian Tradition and Chinese Culture: An Interpretive Overview

  • Chun-chieh Huang
Part of the The International Library of Environmental, Agricultural and Food Ethics book series (LEAF, volume 27)


This article discusses the relationships between agrarian tradition and Chinese culture. Economic life, social structure, political monarchy and cultural developement in traditional China had been based upon and permeated by the time-honored agrarian tradition. Farming had determined the way of life and political monism in pre-modern days. However, it is too farfetched to say that the so-called “Oriental Despotism” was established on the control and operation of the hydraulic system in Chinese history. In traditional China, the basis of imperial rule was deeply imbeded in agrarian patterns of life. For example, the death sentence in imperial China was carried out only in fall when harsh autemn winds arrives. Another aspect that exhibited the deep influence of agrarian tradition upon Chinese culture lies in the realm of thinking. Traditional Chinese thinkers, being baptized in the spirit of correlative mode of thinking, stressed an intimate relationship between the natural order and human order. The running theme of Chinese philosophy was homo-cosmic continuum. This philosophical theme had been deeply permeated by the agarian life experience. In sum, the agrarian tradition and the Confucian thought constituted the two sides of the coin of Chinese civilization.


Agriculture Homo-cosmic continuum Subsistence economy “Orental Despotism” 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chun-chieh Huang
    • 2
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Chinese Literature and Philosophy, Academia SinicaTaipei CityTaiwan
  2. 2.National Taiwan UniversityTaipei CityTaiwan

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